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Oklahoma football: After wife's cancer treatments, Mark Mangino is ready to get back to coaching

by Jason Kersey Published: October 18, 2012

After an almost three-year hiatus, Mark Mangino is ready to coach football again.

Mangino thought he'd be back by now, but his wife's breast cancer diagnosis last year put career ambitions on hold.

Mary Jane Mangino's condition — which has improved; she had her final treatment a few weeks ago, and doctors are optimistic — has helped the former Kansas coach and Oklahoma offensive coordinator learn an important lesson on priorities.

“It was a no-brainer,” Mark Mangino told The Oklahoman in a telephone interview from Naples, Fla., where he and his wife live.

“My family comes before the game. It's helped me get things in perspective, too. She's joked with me, ‘Winning and losing football games isn't really a matter of life or death is it?'

“I said, ‘No, it's not. It's not.'”

Kansas and Oklahoma — the last two stops on Mangino's career path — meet Saturday at 6 p.m. on Owen Field.

The Jayhawks are in their first season under Charlie Weis, the second KU coach since Mangino's successful seven-year run came to a disappointing, controversial end over accusations that Mangino was emotionally abusive to players.

The Kansas football program experienced unprecedented success under Mangino, peaking with a 12-1 season and Orange Bowl victory in 2007-08. The Jayhawks' overall record during Mangino's tenure was 50-48.

Mangino resigned after a 5-7 season in 2009.

His immediate successor, Turner Gill, was fired after two seasons with a 1-16 conference record.

So far in 2012, under Weis, the Jayhawks are 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Big 12.

“I have had no contact with anybody in the program since I left,” Mangino said.

“Do I follow them? I wouldn't say I go out of my way to follow the team, but I do have a place in my heart for the kids on the team that played for me or were recruited by me. I would love to see them have some success. ... I have no ill-will toward the football program or the players at Kansas.”

Mangino said he's proud of what he — along with his assistants and players — accomplished in Lawrence, Kan., touting his “Character First” program to instill good values, the advanced cardiac screenings to detect potential heart problems and his Jayhawks' solid academic record.

“By and large I am proud of what we did,” Mangino said. “I can't control what others think; I can only control my own thinking.

“But any good coach — or any good person who values their occupation — when they have time off like I have, they use it for a period of reflection, and I have done that. ... Anytime you spend a period of time anywhere, you always say, ‘Next time I'll do this a little different, or that a little differently.'”

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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